Do you feel like a film hermit?

Discussion in 'Product Availability' started by arigram, Feb 10, 2007.

  1. arigram

    arigram Member

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    I was going to post this either here or at the Philosophy subforum. I guess its fine either way.

    My question is:
    How many of you, do you really buy your material off the counter of a local photo store?
    My guess is not many.
    How many of you, have absolutely no trouble with mail order?
    By that I mean, its almost as good as buying off the counter, shipping is almost non existant, delivery is fast and you are all the time satisfied with the status of the product.

    Then, how many of you, struggle for their materials?
    And I am talking about your basic supply of film, paper and chemicals.

    Most chemicals don't come in powders and its not easy to find high enough quallity bulk chemicals to make your own, provided the formulas exist for what you like. Ilfosol-S for example, my favorite developer comes in a tiny bottle, is liquid, keeps very little and its closed-source.
    Film makes sense to order only in large quantities, which means that you must have the money upfront, plan ahead and able to store it. Plus, if you just need a few rolls for an emergency you are screwed.
    Paper, its problem being really its weight. The larger it is or the bigger the quantity the larger the shipping cost.

    How about your equipment buying or mentainance?
    Buying by order is usually not a problem, but some things you need to have in front of you to decide if they are what you're looking for.
    Take cameras for example. Ergonomics is very important, not just the specs.
    To buy a camera bag, I had to fly to Athens (the ticket is a lot more expensive than flying to the UK) so I could really see and feel the product. I looked at four different ones before deciding.
    I was lucky with the Hasselblad, it feels good in my hands, but others don't agree. They can try it out before they buy or return it, I couldn't that easily. And now it seems not at all. Even for basic mentainance I have either to forgo the guarantee and pay an old technician of Hasselblad in Athens or send it to Denmark. And that guy is not gonna live for ever and don't think anyone's gonna replace him.

    Here in Crete, there is only in one place I can buy film, chemicals and paper and the owner passed away recently after a long fight with cancer. He was a really good man and helped me a lot. His wife took over but it seems she's having trouble with it and they have a big tax debt. If it closes, I don't know what I'm gonna do.
    I will have to start to order all of my stuff from Athens or Germany. So far, only PanF+ in 120 I needed to order because it doesn't exist in Greece.

    Speaking of which, support is fading away. There are atleast four serious ("pro") stores in Athens that carry analog materials, including one dedicated to BW (Tetenal mostly) but they don't carry everything.
    The Greek representative of Ilford doesn't seem to be interested much in the british company's products as they carry only a small selection and don't care to expand their stock.

    I had orders from Athens that took months, orders that were wrong or incomplete or orders that never came.

    But, I guess, I am one of the lucky ones. I may live on an island, but I am in an EU country, shipping from the contintent is relatively cheap and have no trouble with exchange.

    I would like to hear from those who really struggle and feel they almost doing a heroic act. Going digital would make much more sense but they aren't.

    So, what's your story? Where are you? Is it difficult to get stuff?
    What would be your suggestion in improving the situation considering the analog market?
     
  2. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    My local camera store still has a darkroom department (though it continues to shrink). It makes me wonder how many folks in my neck of the woods are still using a darkroom. It would be my preference to buy everything from a local retailer. I'd like to support them. The problem is, most of things I use, they don't carry. It wouldn't matter if they did though. Their prices aren't just higher than I can find online. I'd expect that and gladly pay a small premium to support them. But they charge anywhere from 150% to 400% of the prices I find online. I succumb for items like...oh, a small bottle of photoflo...or some negative sleeves in a pinch but at those prices, they're on their own.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Here on this little island the streets are paved with silver. I'm extraordinarily fortunate in this regard.
     
  4. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Except for very some basic things, for the darkroom, I must mail order. I have had no problems.
     
  5. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Here in the middle of the USA, in the moderately small community I live in, I have had to order everything for decades. I am used to it. Fortunately shipping here in the USA is fast and relatively cheap.
     
  6. In my city, Zaragoza (population 700,000), 120 film is impossible to buy. And 35 mm is very limited, not Velvia or Provia here, just some Ektachrome E100G, Sensia and the usual consumer grade colour negative films. I can buy some Plus-X in 35 mm, and some Ilford HP5, but that's all.

    I buy film in Barcelona, althoug when I run off I'll begin ordering slide film to BHPhoto. It's by far cheaper than in Spain. A 120 roll costs me about 8 euros. If I order 20 rolls to BHPhoto I can buy it for half the spanish price. B&W prices are very similar so I'll continue buying it in Barcelona. I can travel there in less than 4 hours for 23 euros, cheaper than the shipping costs from USA, and I can take a walk in the Ramblas and see old friends of mine.

    I guess I'm the only one buying B&W paper in the city, because when I go to the shops I always see the same stuff, and the holes I left last time I bought... They're not taking new stock, and as I only like FB paper I have to buy it in Madrid or Barcelona now. The same about chemistry. I order it to a B&W specialized shop in Gijon or buy it in Barcelona when I go there.

    Recently I have begun to develop my slides at home. In my city there's no one decent lab, and pro labs from Madrid and Barcelona ruin my slides from time to time, so I have not much options. Anyway, I like it.

    I buy new equipment in Madrid (I can travel there in the same time and the same cost than Barcelona), because it's cheaper than Barcelona for medium format. I ordered there my last supply of paper too, Forte Fortezo Musseum as Ilford Gallerie is no more available in Spain, but reading that Forte is closing it's factory I guess I have to find somewhere to order Ilford Gallerie again over the net.

    I'm beggining to get used to order thing all over the world. My second hand Jobo CPE-2 came with a paper drum and a not working thermostat, so I had a little adventure. Jobo processors have never been well known in Spain, only a few photo clubs and enthusiasts used it, so now is imposible to find them, with the exception of some high end models I can't afford anyway. So I ordered the E-6 kit to BHPhoto, then I discovered I can't use the paper drum for film, and that the roller block only works with paper drums, so I found a provider of spare parts in Luxemburg, I bought there a 1520 tank and the rollers, meanwhile I noticed the thermostat was not working ok, so I asked JOBO US Technical service and they adressed me to a german technical service who sold me the thermostat replacement.

    I don't feel like a hermit, I fell like a warrior fighting an endless combat against the world. But people from my region are known for being stubborn, if I say "I'll use film" be sure I'll do even if I have to be the last man standing.
     
  7. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I should add that when J&C reopens, I will be in a position to support them as a retailer, not as a mail-order business, since they are an hour away by car and it's a place I go regularly for shopping trips already (nearest Costco is there).
     
  8. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    There's a great array of photography stores here locally, 4 of them I can think of off the top of my head that all sell traditional stuff, and the other has a ridiculous amount of film on show. I suspect the local arts school has a part to play in this, since a year of analogue photography is a required part of the course before you do anything digital.
    When I can get into the city I buy off the shelves, usually I save that way anyway ($25 a pro pack of Velvia in 120, on special), but so far as convenience goes, being an hour and a half away from those stores I usually just buy online.
     
  9. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    I've bought most of my materials from Silverprint in London for years, simply because they were the only supplier for stuff like Forte paper and film in Blighty. Also they're handily located just round the corner from Waterloo station.I could buy film in all sizes up to 5x4 in Salisbury when I lived in Wiltshire, but large quantities I normally bought on culture vulturing trips to London or by mail order. Now I'm right out in the sticks I have to mail order everything, though luckily I brought a big pile of stuff over with me. Anyway, I can always get friends to be mules for me............
     
  10. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Well, I'm in rural France -- SERIOUSLY rural -- and can't buy anything in any quantity or at a sensible price much closer than Paris (300 km away), and Parisian prices are for the most part so high that it's cheaper to order from the UK, especially Mailshots (www.mailshots.co.uk). Tell 'em I sent you and you should get good service in Greece too. For anything out of the ordinary, Silverprint in London is unbeatable and Martin is a REALLY nice guy.

    This is the future, I think: fewer and fewer outlets, and the only chance to see/handle kit at camera fairs/dealer shows (such as Bievres in France or Focus in the UK) or a few good secondhand dealers e.g. (in the UK again) Bernard Hunter in Bristol and Camerex in Exeter or equally few good new dealers such as Robert White -- plus of course specialists such as Linhof and Professional. Or deal direct with e.g. Eddie at Gandolfi.

    Mind you, the same is true of digital, unless you want happy-snap cameras.

    I've had very few problems with mail-order.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  11. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    i do both, buy supplies locally and from out of town as well.
    Have not had issues with either method.
     
  12. thebanana

    thebanana Subscriber

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    In my town (pop 43,000) it is impossible to buy anything film related, with the exception of 35m consumer film. Fortunately, my work takes me to Winnipeg regularly (2.5 hours by car), and I can get everything I need there (120 film, chemicals, paper etc).
    I also do a lot of business online and have had no problems with shipping etc.
    There is a core of 8-10 people in my community who are avid film shooters. The local camera club is all digital and mostly made up of gizmo chasers who recycle vast amounts of plastic each year searching for the next magic bullet. Personally I don't have a problem with digital images, and use a digigizmo myself on occasion. Just don't call the product a "photograph":tongue:
    I have a penchant for buying older rangefinders, tlr's and Polaroids, and am currently looking for a 6x9 folder. As someone on APUG says regularly, "I just like film best".

    J
     
  13. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Like David G., I live on that Island with the silver streets. But even so, as often as not, I now mail order film.

    That's mainly because I'm usually stuck at work during the day and cannot get to the local shops and on weekends I'm up in the country. So internet mail order has become a great way to do 24/7 shopping.* And usually the shipping cost is no greater than the sales tax I avoid by ordering from an out-of-state retailer.

    I hope I can always walk to a film retailer - but if not - I'm prepared. :D

    *It helps living in a Manhattan high-rise with a package delivery room so I don't have to be there to sign for deliveries. :wink:
     
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  15. arigram

    arigram Member

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    I would prefer to hear from people who find it hard to get their materials and how they cope with it. The British, North Americans and continental Europeans are very spoilt in the sense that they could live in the smallest city in the middle of nowhere, but mail order is easy, fast, cheap and reliable.
    Yet, how about people that don't have it that easy in more remote places or less thriving economies?
     
  16. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Ari, sounds like you need to team up with that photo shopkeepers wife and make the business survive. That would solve a few of your supply problems.:wink:
     
  17. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    I buy my slide film in a photo store
     
  18. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    That $5 shipping from freestyle is hard to beat.(just thought I would rub it in a little more(


     
  19. Lopaka

    Lopaka Member

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    I live in a major metropolitan area and can no longer buy sheet film or 120 locally. 35mm is no problem - but anything else is mail order only. There are now only 2 full service camera stores left - Adray (down from 4 stores to 3) and Cameramart (1 store). They and the few others that pretent to be camera stores - I generally have more 120 in my reefer than any one store has in the whole store.

    Bob
     
  20. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    I live in a mid-size city, and there's easy access to 35mm film and darkroom supplies, although it's slightly more expensive to buy locally than to buy online (even with shipping and tax). There's 1 full-time pro lab here, but their developing services are either very limited or too expensive to consider. There's plenty of 1-hour labs here (London Drugs-type), but you know how "great" their quality is compared to a full-scale pro lab.

    Everyone's migrating over to digital 35mm or P/S, and it's sad because people (especially teens and the 20+ crowd) nowdays expect instantaneous gratification whenever I take a photo. I have to actually tell them I'm shooting film because their attention span doesn't go more than a couple seconds and they look elsewhere. And when I do so, they always ask why I still shoot film.
     
  21. Gary892

    Gary892 Member

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    I live in North Orange County California, about a mile South of Knotts Berry Farm. Most of the nearby photo stores have closed. Those that are still open locally offer only digital equipment and supplies. I work in Long Beach and there is a photo store that I have purchased many items from through the years. In September I went in to buy some Photo Flo and I saw that all but a few items for the darkroom were now gone. I asked them to order some photo flo and the owner told me Kodak discontinued it. I responded with no they haven't and he responded with well they should. I told them I would be doing business elsewhere it he wasn't going to support film and I have not been back.

    I don't like to order online and I don't like mail order because I seem to never be home when the package arrives. I live is a tough area and I would not rely on a neighbor to accept the package, they may sell it or pawn it or who knows what.

    On Friday I drove into Hollywood to Freestyle and it took over 2 hours to get there with all the traffic. I will not be doing that again anytime soon.

    So I am now looking at my options for film and darkroom supplies.

    I would rather shop in a store so I can see and handle the product and I don't have to wait for delivery.
     
  22. Kilgallb

    Kilgallb Subscriber

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    I buy all my film and chemicals locally. there is even some use gear such as enlargers available. I think the local art school and journalism school help. Sometimes I need to special order large format film but I can usually do this through a camera store.
     
  23. Kobin

    Kobin Member

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    I like my "local" camera store, but it's nearly an hour into town and on the third busiest street in the city. I usually go there when I have other business in the area. The overhead is high and so are the prices. Even considering shipping and handling, I spend less money buying online.

    I've never had a problem buying on line. I've found packages at my stoop with chilled film inside them even in the summer. (I live at the same latitude as Algiers!). My biggest problem is the cyclic nature of inventories, such as last year when I wanted some Oreiental Seagull VCFB Warmtone and everyone was out for 4-6 months. My photo store doesn't carry Oriental, so I didn't bother going into town for it.

    I'd pay a premium to be able to hold equipment in my hands and see how it works before buying it, but the used market in my area doesn't exist. I don't own a camera newer than twenty years old.

    K.
     
  24. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I live in a pretty remote part of B.C. The nearest photostore (actually a drug store) which used to stock chemicals, paper, film etc now doesn't carry film at all. The next-nearest place is an hour and a half drive, and has two photo stores. It's hit and miss as to what they have or even if their open when you get there. So, I'm relying on mail order more and more. Some from the U.S., some from Eastern Canada.
    Certainly puts a crimp in my impulse buying, but it's ok if you can plan ahead a bit.
     
  25. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    Those of us in Salt Lake would like to point out, however, that Jason shoots very large formats, such as 8x10.

    We can get anything we would like from at least 3 local vendors, and although they are also heavy into digital (and why not?) they carry a very nice supply of Ilford photo supplies at one, Kodak at another.

    I can always get anything up to 4x5 but have to order larger sizes and I would, of course, need to use places like The View Camera Store (www.viewcamerastore.com) for ULF and odds and ends. This is no problem because their prices are better than the local places and have more knowledge about ULF and the like.

    We still have 2 of the best color labs in the west as well and the ability to get wet color prints (c4) [but who would with all that lovely black and white out there :wink: ].
     
  26. markw

    markw Member

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    Couple years ago was not so tough

    Two years ago I lived in Sub-saharan Africa and I could get lots of film using postage stamps...127, Kodapak, 4x5, etc. One old guy at a photo processing shop called his younger employees around to give them a lecture on the film from my Solaris 126 cartridge...they'd never seen such perforations.

    There was even Tura film available from a place in an industrial park who would send me an order (Didn't much like the film though)

    Also lots of expired film in refridgerators. A coleague and I bought hundreds of boxes of 120 Neopan SS dated best before 1993 until it was all gone. The stuff was fantastic.

    Now I'm in Ontario, and I see there are new brands of 126 and 127 available that weren't around 2 years ago. I also play with polaroid 4x5 when I feel rich...I didn't know it was still around. Not that I don't acknowledge an availability problem, but there are still lots of emulsions and formats that I've yet to get around to.